Students write on the board. Sometimes open discussion in the classroom can be difficult for students, especially for those who are introverts. Writing on the board not only gives students a sense of anonymity, but the board gives them a space to write their thoughts down without having to say them aloud. There is often barrier between the students and teacher when it comes to communicating in the classroom because many students are hesitant and reluctant to speak their minds, but by writing on the board, that barrier is broken. Students are much more honest, brave and confident when given the chance to share their thoughts and opinions by writing on the board rather than raising their hands. I have also noticed that students are much more comfortable and informal when writing on the board than when writing on paper. I've had several students use the phrases "lit" and "turnt" on several of our chalk talks. I found these experiences to be interesting because they are bringing their language and slang into the classroom and while so many teachers discourage that, but I find it to be a good thing when students can combine the two together. I think it is important to validate students' language even if it is informal because those words and those phrases are a part of their identity and self.
Students write in books. When you're a little kid, you are told by adults to not write in books, but writing in books can be one of the most beneficial things for students. Annotating can be seen as a tedious and time consuming task, but it doesn't always have to be educational. By writing in their books, students are able to mark up their favorite passages with different colored highlighters and they are able to makes notes about a certain character they love or hate. Writing in books not only pushes students to become more active readers, but it creates a relationship with the text.
Students write in journals. Students write on paper everyday. They write on tests, quizzes, worksheets, homework and more, but journal writing is one of the only opportunities students are given to express themselves on paper. Writing in journals not only gives students a safe place to speak their minds, but it also builds confidence, decreases stress and increases motivation. I have my students write in their journals at least two to three times a week and I often give them the freedom to write about whatever they want in relation to a certain topic. Through journal writing, I have learned so many new things about my students and through their journal entries, I have developed so many meaningful relationships with my students. I have realized that when you recognize that your students have a voice and give them a safe space to be honest and vulnerable, they will take it.
Student left me a note on an assignment she turned in
Students write to send messages. Students write to be creative. Students write to express themselves. When we think of writing, we often think of educational and academic pieces of writing, but students also engage in so many informal ways of writing inside and outside of school. They write notes, they text and they type. Something I noticed many of my students do at my placement school is that they write notes and they doodle. I prepared a socratic seminar for my 12th grade AP Literature students earlier in the semester and during the last 5 minutes of the seminar, I let a student contribute to the discussion quickly so she could receive a point. She ended up leaving me this little note and doodle on the back of her seminar notes that she had to turn in. Students write notes and doodle on their work all the time. Sometimes they write and doodle to send a message or sometimes they're just bored and have creative minds. Students also use social media and technology to write and send messages. Students are texting and communicating with their friends through technology everyday - inside and outside the classroom. Kinloch (2010) states that "many of them [students] feel empowered by the new language they creating, defining, and sharing with their peer audience." Teachers often scold students for being on their phones or devalue a student's language when they use text-slang or popular phrases, but as teachers we need to find ways to incorporate technology and student language into our classrooms. We cannot devalue or undermine a way a student talks because it is not "proper" because that language and those words and phrases are a part of a student's identity. I've realized that we need to put meaning to things that actually matter to students and we can do that by finding new and beneficial ways to incorporate technology and media into the classroom.